Flippin’ international break; bobbins, boring England grumble, grumble, grumble…
It’s seems ages since a City game and even LONGER since a home match (17th September for the record). It doesn’t help that ‘void feeling’ either that our last two games – following an excellent start to the season – ended in a draw followed by a defeat; shipping in 6 goals in those two clashes. That’s something we need to resolve this afternoon.
Sorry for the late posting by the way – incredibly busy time since returning from my holibobs on Tuesday.
Defence – plusses & minuses
With Claudio Bravo in net and the way Pep likes both him and our defence to play [passing around and out form the back] there’s an ever-present threat to our goal, especially from teams like Spurs who set about a plan to counteract it. Guardiola admitted ‘just so’ a few weeks back; admitting quite nonchalantly that yes…we will ‘leak at the back’ from time to time.
But I doubt even he would have seen half a dozen goals hit the back of our net in a little over 180 minutes of play and that’s something he would have liked to have worked on intently in the last 10 days or so. Shame, then, that a lot of his players have been away…
It’s not all bad though – yes we do have Bacary Sagna out injured; a player who is clearly in need of a rest after a gruelling season covering for the largely-injured, last season, Pablo Zabaleta…followed by a very long World Cup campaign. But it’s not all grim news from our defensive department.
Both Argentines Pablo & Nicholas received yellow cards in their first game for their country and were, therefore, sensible returned to England early to work with their club manager longer. Well done the Argentine manager (and fellas for ‘taking one’ for the sake of their club, can I add with a wink).
John Stones has the ‘against his old club’ factor today, whether you see that as good for us or not; both Gael & Aleks are fit and even Vinny has been back in training and is in contention either for today or, more likely I think, Barcelona or Southampton.
So…let’s hope the many ‘plus factors’ over the negative one helps us tighten our defence up once again against The Toffees because before our ‘6-goal blip’, we had only conceded 6 goals in 10 games.
Predicted starting 11, subs and outcome.
Fluid 4-5-1 come 4-3-3 come 4-2-4:
Claudio between the sticks…as well as in the 18-yard box, near both corner flags…
Defence almost picks itself really, with Aleks & Pablo senior flanking Nicholas & John.
A fluid midfield / wing 5 then and working from ‘deeper to more advanced’ I think it’ll be Fernandinho, Ilkay & David all flanked by Nolito on the left and, I think, a start from German international Leroy.
Sergio to, hopefully, recover from a small dip in form and regain some confidence; being supported by an array of creativity behind him.
Hard to predict a bench in a way, with a number of players having only just been deemed ‘recovered from injury’. Willy is the obvious ‘keeper insurance’ of course and I think Gael & Pablo junior are ‘no brainers’ either. Fernando too should be the obvious midfield replacement option; Jesus likely to get into ‘the 7’ and I think Pep would like the option of Kevin from the side (and he does have a record of bursting back onto the scene following a lay-off). Kelechi the striker replacement option.
Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (on his way back from injury but not risked to play any part today), Bacary Sagna (injured), Fabian Delph (on his way back from injury but not risked to play any part today), Raheem Sterling (on his way back from injury but not risked to play any part today), Yaya Toure (unlikely to play for club again following spat with agent).
Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?
Yep…and I hope we DO see a Leroy start this afternoon.
Result? Don’t like playing these in general – they have a history of unsettling us even on our home patch and things, like a lengthy injury to Sergio, tend to happen around this lot.
But it’s a different era now – different-class players and two different managers. Yeah they’ll ‘give us a game’ and threaten our unpredictable rearguard but that’ll just make for a good game. In the end, it’s all 3 points to the lighter of the two blues.
Expected weather conditions during the game: A bit of light cloud may drift in during the second half of the game to spoil some earlier sunshine but it’ll be mostly fine, dry & sunny. A not-too-bad 57F for mid-October in the North West of England too!
I’m sometimes asked which fans are, in general, the worst I’ve come across over the many years of following footy. I’m always keen to include in my reply that it’s only ever a small percentage of fans who behave badly and that every club – even our own of course – has its section of ‘numpties’.
But I have to admit that my answer does all-too-often, sadly, include today’s visiting fans who, for me, ALWAYS seem to cause some kind of mayhem at the Etihad! I know a local fella too who is a supervising steward at our ground and he can’t STAND doing the Everton home game for the very same reason; adding also that they were not much different when he worked at Maine Road.
Let’s hope we see a change in that pattern today…